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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

94         HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

ancient Greece. Attendant on Philology are the seven liberal arts,
Grammar, Dialectic (Logic), Rhetoric, Geometry, Arithmetic,
Astronomy, Music, all with some distinctive symbol. Grammar,
for example, is represented as carrying instruments for loosening
the tongues of children; Logic has a serpent in one hand and
conceals a hook in the other, etc. As the attendant maidens
come forward one after another they give a deadly dull pedantic
exposition of their own subjects, each subject getting a book to
itself.

There could be no more significant indication of the sad decline
of learning in the Fifth Century than this work of Capella's, In
its philosophical sections there is scarcely a trace of the vital ideas
of Greek literature and thought, and its science is " a strange
jumble of inaccurate geography, mystical mathematics and tradi-
tional astronomy." Yet in spite of its aridity it evidently satisfied
a need of its own time and of succeeding centuries. All through
the Middle Ages, and more especially in the earlier part of them,
it enjoyed an extraordinary popularity. It was the most common
textbook in the schools which professed to give advanced instruc-
tion, and commentaries were written on it at various times by
scholars of real distinction. Its great merit was that it brought
together and classified in convenient form most of the information
available on a variety of subjects. The idea that there were seven
and only seven arts, which it introduced for the first time, was as
artificial as the book itself, but it gave a definiteness to the vague
conception of " liberal studies," which served to make the narrow-
ness of an ignorant other-worldly age a little less narrow, and kept
in feeble life till the coining of happier times the Greek ideal of a
system of sciences.

5. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The complete ascendancy of Christianity in the Roman Empire
was signalized at the end of the Fourth Century by the prohibition
of sacrifices to the gods in the East, and by the confiscation of the
endowments of the ancient cults in the West. From that time
forward, those who still held out against the new faith steadily
declined in numbers and in influence. Their last strongholds
were Alexandria and Athens, where Neo-Platonism in a more
mystical and less aggressive form had attracted to itself all the